Woodward Productions in association with PowerArts presented the Sherlock Holmes inspired new work, The Mystery of the Valkyrie at the Playhouse Theatre at QPAC this March. The brand-new Australian written and directed production by the courageous and well-respected playwright Michael Futcher, broke ground with his innovative original story through the lens of the most famous detective in fictional history and created excitement through the mysterious death-defying action throughout the stunning piece of live theatre.
The story was set in London and throughout Europe and encompassed notable investigator Sherlock Holmes (Eugene Gilfedder) and his right-hand man Doctor John Watson (Anthony Gooley) as Holmes nears to the end of his career. However, Watson enlisted Holmes’ expertise to help solve the mysterious death of American scientist Daniel Bauman (Rowan Chapman) and chaos ensued with his partner, Opera singer Irene Adler (Kimie Tsukakoshi) and evil mastermind in the secret Valkyrie faction Professor Moriarty (Bryan Probets) as he tries to cull the weak of the world with a powerful toxin.
The play mirrored what is happening today with the Covid pandemic overtaking the world but instead with a highly toxic pathogen that was placed in the wrong hands and had the power to wipe out masses of people. Sherlock Holmes and his squad went on an epic adventure to stop the evil professor spreading the horrid infection that included hijinks, comedy, and incredible visuals to complement the impressive new production.
Eugene Gilfedder embodied the essence of an older Sherlock Holmes. Eugene was sarcastically brilliant as he portrayed the master detective. His relationship with Watson was at first dismissive but throughout the show they formed the perfect bond and banter. Eugene is an incredible actor with wonderfully nuanced movements and slow articulation in his voice reminiscent of Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape in Harry Potter. He paid homage to the original Holmes as he borrowed from past versions especially the meticulous way he went through the case in his head. Simultaneously close-up video projections of each clue were shown on the big screen behind him, enhancing the story in the best way possible.
Anthony Gooley played into the dry comedy of Doctor John Watson, Holmes’ best mate and confidant throughout the play. He kept Holmes in check if he was going off track and made each new scene a joyous but anxious situation with his endearing sarcasm. Anthony was an incredible presence on stage and gave Watson a grand emotive journey as he tried to hold on to his wife Mary Watson as well as save the world with Holmes. Watson’s love for Irene Adler’s music slightly clouded his judgement in the murder case but ultimately Anthony and Eugene made a superb detective duo.
Incredibly transformative actor, Bryan Probets played the dual roles of Moriarty, the secret Valkyrie malevolent Professor and to juxtapose he also personified the role of the butler of Irene Adeler, Ames. He embodied the sinister feel of the Professor magnificently, the character wanted to steal and take advantage of the poisonous toxic pathogen. On the opposite end he was quite sweet and comedic as the butler Ames and he hilariously helped Holmes with the re-enactment of the crime at the Adler house.
The star of stage and screen, Kimie Tsukakoshi became the dual characters of the illustrious and mysterious Opera singer, Irene Adler and Doctor John Watson’s wife, Mary Watson. Kimie was absolutely stellar and captivating as Adler as she acted as if she didn’t know what was occurring with the misdirect of her partner Daniel secretly faking his own death. Her stage presence was ominous and lively as she performed in the Opera sequences. Her relationship with Holmes and Watson as part of the gang solving the crime was joyous to watch.
Helen Cassidy was the wonderful Scottish Inspector McDonald who was always one step slightly behind Holmes but had the audience giggling at her one-liners and how she sarcastically made fun of Holmes and his ridiculous methods. A memorable moment was when they were doing the interrogation with the four spotlights effectively spaced out across the front of the stage and she really commanded the stage with her hard-hitting questions. She also played the role of Mrs Hudson beautifully.
Danny Brown kept the comedic timing going with his portrayal of Sergeant Turner through his antics with the Prostitute, played by Sarah McINTosh with such flair and emotion. Danny additionally played the dual role of Herr Steiler and Sarah kept the audience on their toes as Claudia.
Jackson McGovern played many roles with gusto, poignancy and purpose including Nikita Ivanovsky, Soames, Jack Barker and Porter. Darcy Brown gave the audience an enjoyable experience as he embodied Mycroft (Sherlock’s brother) with wonderous scenes putting Holmes in his place as his trusted sibling, in addition he played the precise Freddy Myer.
Rowan Chapman completed the cast by showcasing his versatility by playing Daniel Bauman the scared intelligent scientist that ran with the wrong people and gave himself over to the roles of Moran and Charles Scrivener to round out the immensely powerful play.
The Mystery of the Valkyrie was a wonderful new Australian made piece of theatre that left the audience breathless trying to solve the whodunnit story as the clues were revealed. The local cast were phenomenal and poured their heart and soul into the famous literary characters. The sets were seamless and spectacular with the incredible moving walls, trains and era-specific buggy car. The audience loved the show as they rose to their feet at the end of the sensational new production recommended for all theatre and Sherlock Holmes lovers alike.
All images supplied and credit to Joel Devereux.